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There are several types of lentil dishes in Lebanese cuisine, but this vegan Lebanese Lentils and Rice (Mujadaret Roz) is incredibly flavorful, simple to make, and only requires a few pantry staples: lentils, rice and onions.
It also makes a great main dish for a meatless day. The addition of caramelized onions on top completes the dish in terms of presentation, taste, and texture.
A Signature Dish from the Middle East
Mujadara is served in various forms and goes by different names depending on where you are in the Middle East. There are numerous spelling variations, including mujadara, mujadarah, majadra, mejadra, moujadara, mudardara, and megadarra.
This pantry dish is one of those that I usually make when I have a few fresh ingredients on hand, and every time I make it, I remember how delicious it is!
What is Mujadara?
Mujadara is a lentil-based dish that can be served with rice or bulgur wheat. It comes in several varieties, including ‘mjadara hamra’ (reddened lentils with bulgur wheat) and ‘mjadara makhbousa’, which translates as ‘messy lentils’ and has a texture similar to risotto.
This traditional Lebanese mujadara (Mujadaret Roz) is made with lentils and rice, spiced right with seven spices and is topped with caramelized onions, which are an essential part of the dish.
Because of its low cost and ease of preparation, it is often referred to as peasant food. There are numerous variations on the recipe, but this is the one I learned from my Lebanese mom.
Super Powers of Lentils
- Lentils are high in B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. They’re also high in plant-based protein and fiber.
- Lentils are high in polyphenols, which have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as well as the potential to inhibit cancer cell growth.
- Lentils may benefit your heart by promoting weight loss, preventing homocysteine buildup, and improving cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Different Types of Lentils
Lentils are frequently classified according to their color, which can range from yellow and red to green, brown, or black.
The following are some of the most common lentil varieties:
Brown: This is the most common type. They have an earthy flavor, hold their shape well while cooking, and are excellent in stews.
Puy: These originate in the French region of Le Puy. They are similar in color to green lentils, but about one-third the size, and have a peppery flavor.
Green: These lentils come in a variety of sizes and are typically a less expensive alternative to Puy lentils in recipes.
Yellow and red lentils: These lentils cook quickly. They have a slightly sweet and nutty flavor and are ideal for making dal.
Beluga lentils: These are tiny black lentils that resemble caviar. They’re great as a base for warm salads.
Classic Lebanese Rice and Lentils
What Type of Lentils works Best in This Recipe?
I usually use regular brown lentils because they don’t mush up when cooked with rice and keep their texture. However, I’ve cooked this recipe with green lentils and it was just as delicious. I wouldn’t use red split lentils because they will give the meal a soggier texture, which isn’t what we want.
What Type of Rice Should I Use?
You can use almost any type of rice you want. Make sure you increase cooking time if you use brown rice. Because it’s how it’s traditionally made, I prefer white rice (long grain or short grain). You can even substitute rice with bulgur or cracked wheat.
Lentils+ Onions= Best Match
What is the Best Way to Caramelize Onions?
If you want to top your Mujadaret Roz with perfectly caramelized onions, then follow these simple instructions. Slice the onions into thin strips (half a centimeter) and cook for a few minutes on high medium heat, then reduce to low heat for the remainder and mix around every few minutes.
Some of the caramelized onions can be included into the rice dish, but I prefer to pile the majority of them on top.
You can start by caramelizing the onions, which takes at least half an hour. You want a dark golden color so they are sticky and sweet, which is a few shades lighter than you would aim for with Mjadara Hamra.
Frequently Asked Questions
Lentils don’t require soaking. Rinse lentils in cold water before cooking, then pick over to remove any debris or shriveled lentils.
Despite being high in fiber, lentils have a high carbohydrate content, making them difficult to incorporate into a keto diet.
Mujadara is pronounced /muˈdʒɑdəɹə/. In Arabic, it’s most often pronounced as ‘Mjadara’ or ‘mo-jad-dara’.
You can freeze Mujadara for up to three months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating in the microwave.
This dish goes well with salads, such as Laban w khyar (yogurt and cucumber slices), a simple tomato/cucumber/onion salad, or Fattoush. Also, many people enjoy it with pita bread or plain yogurt.
A Perfect Meal for a Meatless Day
Tips and Tricks for Making Mujadaret Roz
Cook the lentils according to the package directions, but most lentils need around 20 minutes to be mostly done. We add the rice to the lentils when they are ‘mostly done’ in this recipe.
When preparing the onions, be patient. The longest part of prepping the dish is cooking the onions. You can speed up the prep by using a food processor or other chopping tools.
While frying the onions, keep an eye on their color. If your onions are browning too quickly, decrease your heat below medium. Onions play such an important role in this dish, so if they are browning unevenly, reduce your heat.
In case any bits stick to the bottom of the pot, you can deglaze the pan with some drops of water and scrape them up. The onions should have a deep brown color without being burned.
Ingredients for Lebanese Lentils With Rice (Mujadaret Roz)
- brown lentils
- short grain rice
- olive Oil
- onions/ sliced and cubed
- seven Spices
Steps to Prep Lebanese Lentils with Rice (Mujadaret Roz)
- Boil 2 cups of brown lentil with water for 20 minutes then drain.
- Soak your rice in warm water for the same amount of time.
- In a medium pot, add 1/3 cup of olive oil on medium heat and sauté the cubed onions until translucent.
- Add in the drained lentils and rice, water, salt and seven spices, then bring to a boil for 2 whole minutes while gently stirring. Taste the broth and adjust the salt and seven spices to your liking. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- In a medium skillet add the rest of the oil (3/4 cup) on medium heat. Add the sliced or winged onions.
- Sauté until onions are caramelized then garnish your plate of lentils and rice. Enjoy alone, with fresh veggies and a side of yogurt.
Brown, Smooth and Pretty Simple
Other Vegan Recipes You Will Enjoy
- Seven Spices
- Air Fried Spicy Potato and Cilantro
- Kale Salad with Caramelized Onions
- Lebanese Tabouli Salad
- Cauliflower Tahini Bake
- Vegetarian Lentil Shephard’s Pie
- Easiest Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese
- Roasted Eggplant Salad
- Skillet-Sautéed Potatoes and Onions
- Lebanese Veggie Pizza (Pie)
- Vegetarian Grape Leaves
Lebanese Lentils with Rice (Mujadaret Roz)
- Boil 2 cups of brown lentil with water for 20 minutes then drain.
- Soak rice in warm water for the same amount of time then drain.
- In a medium pot, add 1/3 cup of olive oil on medium heat. Sauté the cubed onions until translucent.
- Add in the drained lentils and rice, 2 cups water, salt and seven spices, then bring to a boil for 2 whole minutes while gently stirring. Taste the broth, and adjust the salt to your liking. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- In a medium skillet add the rest of the oil (3/4 cup) on medium heat. Sauté thinly sliced onions until golden-brown (caramelized). Remove the onions once caramelized and set on a plate that is covered with paper towel so it soaks up the oil.
- Plate the lentils and rice then garnish with caramelized onions. Enjoy alone, or with fresh veggies and a side of yogurt.
- You can chop the onions up to a day ahead of time and even caramelize the sliced onions to cut down on prep time.
- For best results, follow the recipe as is.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container. They will keep in the fridge for about 4-5 days.